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Dissertation zugänglich unter
URN: urn:nbn:de:gbv:18-82852
URL: http://ediss.sub.uni-hamburg.de/volltexte/2017/8285/


Ethiopian Abǝnnät Manuscripts: Organizational Structure, Language Use, and Orality

Äthiopische Abǝnnät Manuskripte: Organisatorische Struktur, Sprachegebrauch und Oralität

Kebede, Gidena Mesfin

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 Dokument 1.pdf (6.800 KB) 


Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch): Magic , Ethiopian , Abinnet , Orality , Structure
Basisklassifikation: 06.17 , 18.71
Institut: Asien-Afrika-Institut
DDC-Sachgruppe: Handschriften, seltene Bücher
Dokumentart: Dissertation
Hauptberichter: Bausi, Alessandro (Prof. Dr.)
Sprache: Englisch
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 21.10.2016
Erstellungsjahr: 2017
Publikationsdatum: 17.01.2017
Kurzfassung auf Englisch: Ethiopic literature has a category that I have called abǝnnät in this dissertation. I have opted to use this very term on grounds of internal textual evidence, secondary literature and practitioners’ ‘däbtäras’’ knowledge. This genre which used to be called ‘magic literature’ and sometimes asmat is a rich area of research. As a result of a mesh of cultures and religions from which its contents are drawn, this genre is textually rich. Research on this area has so far been directed towards the edition of individual texts which is limited in scope and variety. This dissertation focuses on the study of the structural set up of individual texts or abǝnnäts, their language use and the orality involved in using them. The structural approach has shown that an abǝnnät comprises parts (which I called sections) such as the introductory formula, the asmat ‘names’, the ṭälsäm ‘images and figures’, the Brillenbuchstaben ‘letters with eye glasses’, the caution, the gäbir ‘effectuation’ to mention the main ones. From this we clearly see that the asmat which was used to name the genre is only a constituent part. This has helped me to argue against the thus far purported functional dichotomies such as ‘magico-religious’ vs ‘magical’. Such categories can’t be taken without a question as the structure and function of the texts discussed coalesce into what I have called abǝnnät. It has further been shown that some constituent parts of each individual text are recent additions, at least textually, though they were part of the encoded text but used to be preserved orally. One of such sections is the so called gäbir ‘effectuation’, that was originally oral. This section was kept oral as an element of the secrecy of the texts. The languages of composition are used in such a way that Geʿez (Ethiopic) is the language of the core abǝnnät content and Amharic is the language of the effectuation ‘gäbir’. Languages used in the so called asmat are also ascribed esoteric value. Herbal lists have also been rendered in Tigrigna which is the däbtära vernacular. In addition to the function of the languages of composition of the texts, I have approached the texts from the Speech Acts Theory (SAT) in an attempt to understand how the power purported to be hold in the texts is effectuated. The application of such an approach into such Ethiopic texts is the first of its kind. The texts are highly secretive in that their transmission history is blurred and their use complex. I have found out that secrecy and complexity is partially exhibited by the use of cryptographic methods in writing the texts. As with transmission, four ways of transmitting individual or groups of abǝnnäts have been identified. Assigning a title is also part of the oral knowledge of the däbtära. It has been identified that the part of the incipit called ṭǝntä nǝbab ‘original reading’ is used as a cue to form a label and a title.

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